Can Bearded Dragons Eat Bell Peppers / Capsicum?

In this post we learn that bearded dragons can eat bell peppers occasionally but not too often, and we learn why the green ones aren’t as good as the other colours

can bearded dragons eat bell peppers featured image

They Can Eat Bell Peppers Occasionally, Yes

About 8 min reading time

Bearded dragons can eat bell peppers (also known as sweet pepper or capsicum) occasionally. They can have the yellow, red, orange or green bell peppers as there’s nutritionally very little difference, although green peppers aren’t as developed and ripe as the others and should be fed less often.

Bell Peppers are a colourful bell shaped vegetable. They originate from Mexico and Central and northern South America. Bell peppers have a slightly tangy taste and look like rounded chilli peppers. They’re not generally as spicy hot as chilli peppers though.

Peppers contain approx. 5% carbohydrates, 1% protein and minimal fat. They contain very little calcium and twice as much phosphorus as calcium. Peppers have a moderate amount of potassium and minimal Vitamin A. They are high in Vitamin C though. Our bearded dragons do like a spot of pepper in their salad now and then.

Bearded dragons do seem attracted to the more peppery bitter tastes.

Peppers aren’t overly bad in general and can be good to add a bit of colour to a salad which may entice a bearded dragon to eat salad. But they’re not overly nutritious and have too much phosphorous to calcium hence their position in the Occasional group.

Why Can’t Bearded Dragons Have Bell Pepper Every Day?

There’s a number of problems with giving bearded dragons bell peppers every day;

  • Bell Peppers have too much water. Bell peppers contain a fair amount of water and this can lead to overhydration, where the essential electrolytes that are required for proper muscle, heart and brain function get flushed out with the excess water.
  • Low in Calcium. Bell peppers, on average, according to the USDA[1], contain very little calcium. Bearded dragons need a diet rich in calcium to prevent metabolic bone disease and if you’re feeding bell pepper, you’re not feeding something else which is rich in calcium instead.
  • High in Phosphorous. On top of the low calcium, peppers have over twice as much (by weight) Phosphorous as they do Calcium content. This phosphorous binds with calcium in the body and prevents what little calcium is available in the bell peppers being absorbed. In fact, it could also potentially bind with calcium from other foods too, making the net calcium available for absorption less than the bell peppers actually provide.

Can Bearded Dragons Eat Bell Pepper Leaves and/or Stems?

Bearded dragons should not eat bell pepper leaves or stems, or bell pepper flowers. Bell peppers, like tomatoes are part of the Nightshade family of plants. The leaves, stems and flowers contain substances called Alkaloids which are produced by the plant and can have a very toxic effect on animals (including humans, and of course bearded dragons)[3]. In a controlled dosage setting these alkaloids can be used as medicine. But in a situation such as feeding random leaves to a bearded dragon, these alkaloids are likely to be harmful and even potentially fatal.

Bearded dragons should therefore not have leaves, stems or flowers of the bell pepper plant.

Can Baby Bearded Dragons Eat Bell Peppers

Baby bearded dragons can have the yellow, red or orange bell peppers. The green bell peppers are not as ripe and potentially contain more of those Alkaloids we were talking about above. It’s probably wise to avoid green bell peppers for baby bearded dragons, but the others should be OK in moderation.

Baby bearded dragons should be fed a diet of around 20% vegetables with the rest being insects. Of that 20% only a very small portion should be bell pepper – perhaps one or two small dice of bell pepper in a salad, making a strip of bell pepper a week.

Advantages Of Bell Pepper For Bearded Dragons

  • Good for re-hydration of a dehydrated beardie
  • Last a good long while in the fridge
  • Easy to find in most supermarkets
  • Add a splash of color and therefore interest in a salad

Disadvantages Of Bell Pepper For Bearded Dragons

  • Almost no nutritional value
  • Too much water, potentially causing tummy upsets
  • Phosphorous to calcium ratio of around 2:1

How Should I Feed Bell Pepper To A Bearded Dragon?

The orange, yellow or red peppers are the best to feed your bearded dragon. The green ones are less ripe and may contain more oxalates and alkaloids than the colored peppers. We recommend sticking with the more ripe red, orange or yellow bell peppers for bearded dragons.

In order to prepare bell pepper for your bearded dragon, we recommend washing the outside thoroughly to ensure any pesticides are full removed. The cut the bell pepper in half, and then half again.

Remove the stem completely and throw it away. The stem contains harmful alkaloids that are definitely not a good idea for bearded dragons. Take out all the seeds from inside the bell pepper and throw them away too.

Then, cut strips of bell pepper flesh away, around 1cm (a third of an inch ish) and chop using just one strip of the bell pepper, cut that into dice shapes. These dice will number around 5 – 8 pieces of bell pepper. That can be added to your bearded dragons salad once or twice a week to give it some extra colour.

How Many Bell Peppers Should I Feed A Bearded Dragon?

Bell peppers, like tomatoes should be considered as a treat for bearded dragons and shouldn’t be fed every day. We would recommend 3 or 4 slices of bell pepper a month at most – spread out over the days of the month of course. So, a piece of bell pepper here in their salad, and a piece there. If they really love bell pepper and you want to provide a treat you could feed a couple of small cubes by hand every week as a treat.

In terms of absolute numbers of course it’s difficult to tell, but as a guide we would suggest no more than 4 – 6 strips of bell pepper measuring around 1cm each – cut into dice as mentioned above.

Nutritional Data For Yellow Bell Peppers For Bearded Dragons

Nutritional ItemContent
Water Content (%)92
Fat (%)0.21
Protein (%)1
Dietary Fibre (%)0.9
Carbohydrate (%)6.32
Calcium (mg/100g)11 (0.11%)
Potassium (mg/100g)212 (0.212%)
Phosphorous (mg/100g)24 (0.024%)
Vitamin A (ug/100g)10
Vitamin C (ug/100g)184
Oxalates (mg/100g)117 (Moderate)
Nutritional Data For Bell Peppers For Bearded Dragons [1][2]

Summary

In this post we looked at whether bearded dragons can eat bell peppers. The answer, we discovered, is yes, bearded dragons can eat bell peppers, as an occasional food item. We also recommend the yellow, orange or red coloured peppers rather than green. We also looked at how to feed bell peppers to your bearded dragon and discovered it was relatively easy to do this by slicing into 1cm slices and then dicing further into cubes.

We also learned that the nutritional value of bell peppers is quite low. And finally we learned that the leaves, stems and flowers of the bell pepper plant are actually toxic to bearded dragons and should never be fed to them.

Frequency: OCCASIONALLY.

For more information on other vegetables that Bearded Dragons can eat, please see our overall category at ‘Which Vegetables Can Bearded Dragons Eat?

References

1: US Department of Agriculture FoodData Central. Fetched on 1 March 2022 from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169383/nutrients

2: Oxalate (oxalic acid) content of 750+ foods, with numbers from university and government sources – sourced from https://oxalate.org/ on 1 March 2022.

3: Solanine. Science Direct. Fetched from https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/solanine on 1 March 2022.